by David Robinson
My wife Chris and I first became interested in Pioneer Bible Translators in PNG in about 1980. A former student of mine at Platte Valley Bible College had joined PBT and was planning to come to PNG. We followed their adventures in schooling, somewhere along the line became supporters, and tried to keep track of what was happening when they came to PNG and went out to begin a New Testament translation among the Mbore people. In 1985 I began to serve on PBT’s board of directors, and in 1993 my whole family and I took a five week visit to see the work in PNG. Somewhere along the line we began to believe that we could be of use to God’s kingdom by helping out with Bible translation, so in 1998 we left Scottsbluff, NE to go to Dallas for some additional schooling in linguistics. We came to PNG in 1999, and worked here eight years, before returning to the states, back to Scottsbluff, and back to the same college I taught at before, now called Summit Christian College.
But in the years I was here in PNG, I gradually became significantly involved with the Mbore translation project, and developed a relationship with the Mbore people. Some of them I count among my closest friends. I had the privilege of helping them to be able to publish their first complete books of Scripture. We were able to get Luke, Acts, and Galatians consultant checked, type-set, and printed. The dedication was held in September of 2006. It was a great time of joy for Chris and I, for the Mbore people, and for all of PBT, without whose efforts is would never have been accomplished.
When Chris and I decided that it was best that we return to the US, my deepest regret was that the Mbore translation might flounder. That would be a real tragedy, because at that time almost all the books of the New Testament were at least in rough draft. So when I left, I promised the Mbore national translators, Steven and Denny, that I would try to come back if I could the next summer. As it turned out, I was able to come that summer, and both summers since. The Mbore New Testament is now completely rough drafted, most of the books have been consultant checked, and the vision of a published New Testament is close enough that we can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel.
That is the reason I make the effort to come back to Madang each summer. I really believe that having God’s Word in the language of the people has the potential of making a culture changing difference in the lives of the people. At this point technology has advanced to the point that I can continue working on the translation even in the midst of my teaching at the college. So I prepare materials all through the year, and thanks to the generosity of some genuine Christians back home, I am able to come back to Madang for five or six weeks in the summer and work in person with the Mbore men (and sometimes women) who still really want to have the New Testament to read in their own language. I have the added bonus of seeing many friends and acquaintances in PBT and the Madang community, but to be honest, I don’t think I would pay what it costs to travel over here just for that. So at the core, I want to see the Mbore translation finished and used. In some ways I see that as almost the culmination of my life’s work in the Word of God. If I am able, I will continue to help other translations move ahead by doing consultant checking for others, but for now, the goal of finishing the Mbore translation is about as far down the road as I can see.
I thank God for the amazing privilege of being able to be a part of something so magnificent, and I pray that I will be able to finish the course.
David and Chris Robinson came to PNG in 1999, and worked here for eight years, before returning to the USA.